The Slow Sale: Getting conversions from ads outside the search world

I’ve been spending a little bit of time lately out of the search marketing world and into the broader Internet marketing space. I signed up for every “guru’s” newsletter, accepted all the free offers and I even signed up for a few paid ones. There are a lot of scams out there, but there are also those genuinely interested in providing quality information.

What I’ve come away with, and I’ve certainly talked about this before, is that conversions depend a lot on the traffic source. This becomes especially true when we move our ads away from the search page and onto social media sites or other places where users are browsing, not searching. Most people will say that in order to increase conversion you need to tweak the landing page, change what you say, how you say it, update the artwork, the offer, or work on other countless variables. What they don’t tell you is that you can also improve your conversion rate without making any changes to your landing page at all. How? Well it all goes back to the traffic source, so keep reading… Read more

Engage the Cloaking Device: My presentation at SMX Advanced (slides and comments, too)

I promised everybody that I’d be posting my presentation slides from my talk at the SMX Advanced Bot Herding panel, so here they are!

First, let me say that I was very excited to be speaking at a major search marketing conference, and I can say with confidence that all the traveling was definitely worth it. My only regret is that I did not get to finish my presentation. This is the first time I spoke publicly and as an inexperienced speaker I was not even looking at the timer. My apologies to all those in attendance. :-) Frankly, I do think speakers should be allowed a little bit more time for SMX Advanced, as you really do need time to lay the groundwork before delving deeply into these sorts of topics. Read more

Using pay-per-click guinea pigs: How to leverage PPC for more successful SEO campaigns

It happens to the best of us. You work on an SEO campaign with a few carefully chosen keywords for months. But when you finally get to the top of the search engine results…nothing. The traffic you expected doesn’t come in or, even worse, neither does the money. You start to wonder, “What went wrong? Is it that people don’t like the search snippet? Are they finding what they want on the website?”

It’s perhaps the most frustrating thing that can happen to an SEO. But it’s also something you can often avoid completely with a little planning. In this post I’m going to talk about a technique I like for using pay-per-click first to test out my SEO game plan. This way the next time you make it to the top of the search rankings, the traffic and money will start pouring in! Read more

Simple SEO: explaining and understanding SEO in the simplest way possible

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to post here as I am extremely busy with RankSense. In selling an SEO software suite I answer a lot of technical questions, but, oddly enough, I feel I have become much better at explaining what SEO actually is. As SEO has become more mainstream, and more people are curious about what exactly it means, I think it’s important to find ways to explain SEO in simple terms. That’s exactly what I want to do in this post: simple SEO in terms of goals, strategies, and tactics. Read more

Baiting and Beseeching — Obtaining the right mix of chasing links and getting them to chase you

In this blog, I’ve often spoken about different link-building strategies. Generally, we can break them down into two categories: chasing links vs. letting them chase you. Both methods have their pros and cons, and personally I’ve found that a mixed approach of link acquisition and link baiting is best. In this post I’m going to talk specifically about how each works and the strategies to employ. Whether you are a “chaser” or a “chasee” I’m going to tell you why you should make sure you’re doing both. Read more

Link Mass: How to determine how much effort it takes to rank for any particular keyword phrase

Based on the emails and response I received for my contribution to the “Link Building Secrets” project, I know that I am not the only one that loves to use metrics to measure how close I am to my goals. Thanks to everyone for your emails and encouraging comments. In this post I want to reveal another useful metric I use for our internal and client projects.

When you check the backlinks of sites ranking for competitive keywords (terms with many search results) you see that those sites have a large number of links pointing to them. But if you count the links of the top ten (using Yahoo Site Explorer, as the rest of the backlink checkers are not very useful), you notice that the results at the top don’t necessarily have more links than the ones at the bottom. This is the case because each link carries a unique rank-boosting weight (real PageRank and other link-value factors in the case of Google) that contributes to the ranking of the page for that particular term. In order to simplify things, I like to refer to the combinations of positive and negative link value factors of a page as its Link Mass. Read more

A Radically New Concept in Keyword Research

SEO expert and blogger Donna Fontenot recently honored me with a positive review of my recently launched software, RankSense. I must admit that I was not born a salesman and I detest hype and hyperbole, so it feels great when my peers see the value in what I am trying to bring to the market. Thanks Donna and thanks Tad for your reviews. Although I have worked closely with top copywriter, Paul Robb (winner of the SEOmoz landing page competition), and my clever technical writer and editor, Benjamin Zadik, to create persuasive copy for our product site, I have to admit that there is still a lot of work to do explaining the true benefits of the software (and in some measure, the benefits of SEO).

If you have read some of my posts, you know that I don’t like to do what everybody else is doing and I think that reflects strongly in the way I designed the software. For instance, if you have used any of the keyword research tools on the market, you know that there is little that differentiates one from the other. Most do the same thing: find the keywords people are actively searching for, measure their competitiveness, assess their value, and so on. RankSense is different.

In this post I would like to go deeper into what I believe is one of the most powerful and useful features of RankSense—a radically different keyword research module. Read more

How to Act Like an SEO Expert: Four mistakes to avoid when performing SEO experiments

In yesterday’s post I explained my creative process for uncovering new and interesting search marketing ideas. In this post I want to focus on the other critical element toward becoming an expert: endless experimentation. Of course testing must be done carefully to avoid arriving at the wrong conclusions, which will bring us to another of my favorite topics: human error.

As I like to do, let me explain my process with an actual example.

Last month there was an interesting post on SEOmoz about session IDs and HTTP cookies. In the post, Rand asserted that search engines don’t support cookies, and it’s therefore another alternative to controlling robot access to a site. Very clever; I don’t know how I didn’t think about that first! :-)

Well, in the comments, King questioned the validity of the original assumption that search engines don’t accept cookies. Here is what he had to say:

I’m not sure its [sic] really true that search engines (Google at least) don’t accept cookies. I recently (well 6 months ago) created a site that checks for cookies before allowing customers access to the shopping cart. If cookies are disabled it sends the user to a[n] info page on the topic Google indexed the actual shopping cart page perfectly well, they totally bypassed the “cookie info” page, and never indexed that at all. Cookie checking was done entirely via PHP code.

For a while I have assumed that Google does not support cookies, but the truth is that search engines are constantly being improved and have evolved over the years. For instance, years ago search engine crawlers did not follow links embedded in JavaScript, but recent experiments have proven that at least Google does follow the less intricate ones.

So, this was a perfect candidate for a simple experiment. Let’s confirm whether search engines accept cookies or not. As best I can, I like to follow the scientific method. Read more

How to Think Like an SEO Expert

If you want to become an expert you need to start thinking like one. People perceive you as an authority in your field not because you claim you are, but by listening to what you say or reading what you write. From my personal experience, the key seems to be the originality, usefulness and depth of what you have to share. Recently I was very honored to contribute to a link-building project. I wanted to share with you my idea, but more than that, in this blog I like to take extra time to explain the original thought process that helped me come up with the idea in the first place.

The Challenge

Toolbar PageRank was a very important factor in measuring the quality of a link for a long while. But Google has played so much with it that it can hardly be considered reliable these days. I like to see problems like these as challenges and opportunities, so I decided to look hard for alternatives. I know there are several other methods (like using the Yahoo backlink count, number of indexed pages, etc.) but I did not feel these directly reflected how the link was important to Google, or to any other specific search engine. Each search engine has its own evaluation criteria when it comes to links, so using metrics from one to measure another is not a reliable gauge in my opinion.

I knew the answer was out there, and I knew just where to look. Read more